X08 was held in Toronto last week on Thursday (a little game called Too Human held me up in getting this posted sooner). Very different from last years show. It was located at the former
downtown Playdium premises (think giant arcade + bars), with more third party publishers in attendance, but a noticeable lack of any PC games at all, this was purely an Xbox 360 showing. While strangely they had Samsung showing off televisions and an area for the Zune (now finally launched in Canada). That said they had a nice floor layout with third party up front, Microsoft Game Studios titles on the second floor, Gears of War 2 taking up the 3rd (complete with lots of multiplayer stations) and the remainder used by the bar/food/internet lounge. All said it was a far better presentation than last years venue and without the drama of car crashes, power outages and the police showing up.
Here's some footage
of the show floor (complete with my shaky handi-cam work).
Naruto: The Broken Bond
Walked onto the show floor, glancing around. Saw Naruto out of the corner of my eye (I wasn't even aware they were working on the sequel) and ran over to it.
- With this second title, the same team within Ubisoft Montreal asked to stay on the project, they enjoyed making the first so much. They wanted bring this sequel even closer to the anime this time around.
- This time the Japanese language track with English subtitles will not only come on the disc (instead of seperate DLC), but will be the default setting. They will offer the English option but only after a "Are you SURE?" prompt.
- Their new graphics engine was designed to look so close to the cartoon cells, that when they demoed the Tsunade/Jiraiya/Orochimaru battle for the Japanese licensing team, they didn't immediately believe they were looking at something in 3D. Seeing it myself, I can second that, this is possibly the closest looking cell shading to real animation I've ever seen.
- Naruto is no longer running around solo, he's accompanied by two extra party members.
- The party members are chosen out of a group of 7 (most likely once you've found them all).
- Some parts of the game will involve playing different characters with Naruto left out of the action (all part of the story).
- World puzzles will involve using a mix of techniques between the characters.
- In the demo we see Naruto find a "danger" area, where you switch over to the Neji character and use his unique ability to see traps in the path before you and navigate through safely.
- There's also a puzzle where Naruto uses his clone technique to build a bridge where one is required, then the player switches out to Shikamaru to use his Shadow Control ability to move across the newly formed bridge through a crack in the gate on the other side to open it. Snazzy stuff.
- Konoha (home city) becomes destroyed in the storyline, part of the game is working to restore it.
- All the great gameplay elements from the first game returned, more polished and fleshed out. Be it combat, RPG elements or platforming.
- No more fights when you fail at the "tree run" (whew).
- Now featuring real-time abilities during combat, on top of the "charge up" techniques.
- The three character party carries over into combat, allowing for constant switch-outs, as well as tag team maneuvers.
- Game will feature 25 playable characters for multiplayer combat, 7 in story mode.
- Follows Season 4 of Naruto, possibly into 5.
- At this time they're not planning any DLC, they're including everything possible into the core game on the disc as a total experience.
The video includes the full demo, please forgive any framerate, contrast issues or focus on me and my camera. The game simply looks stellar and the framerate is smooth.
Naruto: The Broken Bond
For me, this was one of the most exciting things at the show. To see them take what was already a fantastic first game, give it a proper sequel treatment (including better graphics, gameplay, story presentation, multiplayer, etc). The Japanese teams have taken a keen interest in this Naruto game series, as it seems to be setting a new standard on how to handle making a great game from the IP (where many others have failed or are too genre specific).
Naruto: The Broken Bond goes on sale in November.
Was pleased to see this one on display at the XBLA stations. Visually, it just stands right out of the pack.
- Art/animation style is fantastic, almost it's own selling feature.
- Gameplay is a mix of Double Dragon and Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, both winners.
- Humourous character animations, per Alien Hominid.
- Well designed boss fights, best handled through co-op tactics.
- Lots of unlockables in-game.
Here's some footage of two players tearing it up, a microsoft rep and nixpayn
(enjoy our witty banter) are at the controls. Sorry I didn't film to the mini-boss, batteries were running low.
Quality, polish and love gleam off this game. If the final pricing is $15, it'll be money well spent for a classic arcade experience with online co-op play, if not just for single player.
Castle Crashers goes on sale tomorrow!!
Mortal Kombat Versus DC Universe
Wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one from what I'd heard. But Psykoboy2
told me that I just had to go give it a try.
- It's Mortal Kombat Versus DC! The character match ups alone are just great.
- Graphics engine is quite good, very smooth animation.
- Battle damage is readily apparent on your opponent when you hand them a beat down.
- In a long tradition of MK games, you'll be moving through the environment, crossing between arena locations as the battle escalates.
- Many of these transitions are covered by their own extra-damage button presses and counters between the fighters. Nicely presented in their bottom respective corners.
- While some outlets have claimed the Flash is overpowered compared to the other playable characters, he's not all that. Sub-Zero puts him in his place (literally). Expect many of the fighters to have their own strengths and weaknesses against other opponents.
Video of Scorpion Versus Batman, as two of the security guards on a break take a chance for some MK vs DC action. Enjoy!
Mortal Kombat Versus DC Universe
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this game, as I haven't played a Mortal Kombat title seriously since MK Trilogy on the N64. But as with Marvel vs Capcom, injecting whole new characters from another IP on top of an already decent formula has made a new great fighting game. I expect people will at least be getting this as a rental upon release, as it's a riot of a time.
Mortal Kombat Versus DC Universe goes on sale in November.
As with many an EvAver, I played a lot of Duke3D back in the day. Though I wasn't quite sure how well the controls would be on a console (I was used to spinning around very fast using my mouse), let's see....
- Port of a classic PC game.
- Newly added feature to rewind time.
- As reported on Co-Optimus, 4 player co-op will be featured. 8 player deathmatch as well.
Quick video demo to get you an idea of how it looks on XBLA. Enjoy the borders (they'll likely be removable).
Duke Nukem 3D
I'm not sure what's to say. It's Duke 3D all right. For the single player experience, it seems to work well enough. The addition of the rewind feature is definitely appealing, while four player co-op also ups the ante. Best bet as always with XBLA titles, try out the demo and see if it's for you.
Duke Nukem 3D will go on sale "sometime in September".
Part Two goes up tomorrow (once I'm finished prepping for PAX). Covering the two musical monoliths titles for this year, as well as what may be our World War 2 game of this holiday season and everyone's favourite curb-stomping sequel. In the meantime, amuse yourself with what Cliff Bleszinski keeps in his wallet: